Image of nurses' hands at computer keyboard

Providers asked the federal government to “Show me the money!” as they incur significant costs in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And the government responded Friday by releasing a portion of funding from the $2 trillion stimulus package. 

“Our members and their staff are doing their utmost to provide care that ensures older adults’ health and safety under challenging circumstances in an unprecedented situation,” said Katie Smith Sloan, LeadingAge president and CEO. 

The federal government released the first $30 billion of the $100 billion stimulus fund Friday. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma announced that the funding would be on the way for hospitals earlier in the week, while skilled nursing providers speculated that their portion should also be on the way.

“Today’s disbursements, based on 2019 Medicare fee-for-service reimbursements will, we expect, help some of our provider members in nursing homes, home health and hospice,” Smith Sloan said. 

“We look forward to future allocations from the still-to-be distributed $70 billion from the CARE Act Provider Relief Fund and hope these payments will continue to support key aging services providers, including those that participate in Medicaid (including Medicaid home and community-based services), Medicare Advantage, and PACE organizations,” she added. 

Robin Hillier, financial consultant and founder of RLH Consulting, explained that the funding is 6.2% of last year’s Medicare reimbursements for her facility and will cover about 60% of a payroll. 

“We appreciate CMS’ quick action to get some additional cash flow into our account,” Hillier told McKnight’s Friday. 

Payment expert Caryn Adams noted that $1.5 billion will be distributed directly to skilled nursing facilities within a week. 

“They are saying no strings attached. It will be based on Medicare revenue,” Adams said.  

In other coronavirus-related news:

•  The United States is planning on seizing exports of protective personal equipment leaving the country and will determine if the equipment should be kept in the country for providers in need, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Federal Emergency Management Agency said. Border Patrol will hold exports of respirators, surgical masks and surgical gloves, while FEMA will determine if the equipment should be returned for use in the United States, purchased by the government or exported.

•  Providers interested in learning about experiences, research and interventions regarding COVID-19 in long-term care settings around the world will find a wealth of information at “LTC Responses to COVID-19 / International Long-Term Care Policy Network.” The week-old website “has been assembled by a hopefully growing team of volunteers working on Long-Term Care research, to provide a space to bring together all those really useful resources we were spotting on Twitter,” organizers write.

•  In brighter news, a Monroe City (MO) Manor Care Center music video features numerous staff and residents taking part in 3 minutes and 27 seconds of proud dancing and singing to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” track. Listeners got plenty of infection control advice (“Don’t want the germ? Just waaaaash! Don’t want the germ? Just waaaaash!”) as well as vows to keep residents safe, from DON Brittany Vanlandingham’s lyrics, which are sung by some department leaders. This one certainly takes a creativity award.